We all hope treasures fall into our laps. However, seldom people would have the luck. An unexpected discovery of 'aerolite' leads to a blockade. Read on to see what the lucky man went through!
A man stood outside his home, watching helplessly as his house was cordoned off. He still couldn't figure out the whole thing. How could it develop like this with a simple call for help to identify the treasure he found on the beach?
Finally, an expert in protective gear came out of his house. The man waited for him to report his findings. However, the expert couldn't squeeze a word out of his mouth. What did he see exactly?
Back in the spring of 2016, a couple named Steven Whitten and Viola were planning for a relaxing walk along Middleton Sands because of its impeccable scenery. They chose this spot because it was near their home, which was located in Overton.
The purpose of walking by the sea is to escape from the hectic lives and enjoy the tranquility that sea brings. Since Middleton Sands is a rather popular place among hikers and dog owners, they chose a less popular stretch of beach. They weren't aware of what strange thing may ensue due to that choice.
When they were admiring the view, some weird, acrid smell in the air drew Steven's attention. He took a deep breath and asked whether Viola smelt that strange odor. Sure she did. At that moment, little did the two know that they were about to stumble across something that would change their lives.
Now that the foul smell had spoiled their mood for strolling, they decided to find its source. With a few steps forward, they saw an odd rock about the size of a football lying on the beach. After years of being pummelled by the waves, it had been worn smooth. They wondered what the thing was.
Steven touched the unknown rock gingerly and tried hard to brainstorm it. Numerous questions sprang to mind: Could it be an aerolite? Was it unique? Or may it be a precious rock? However, he couldn't get a single answer. With his curiosity piqued, he picked it up, then wrapped it in Viola's scarf. Now what he only wanted to get online to see whether his suspicions were true.
Steven used his fisherman's scales to weigh the strange lump the moment they arrived home. The result became more exciting, because it read 3.5 pounds! He then took to a community group on Facebook and posted a picture of it online. Soon, his post was flooded with comments.
Some argued that it was a piece of volcanic rock which had originated in a volcano deep under the ocean, while others said it seemed to be an aerolite. Then, an amateur meteorologist came up with a suggestion that Steven should try the "magnet test" to know for sure. However, they were all so wrong.
"It feels like a rock-hard rubber ball, its texture is like wax, like a candle. When you touch it, you get wax sticking to your fingers," Steven explained in an interview. Being out of any clue, Steven had held the object against a magnet, and he knew this time would lead to a panic.
Soon the result of the magnet test came out, confirming that it contained no iron. Therefore, it couldn't be an aerolite. However, the answer to the foul smell remained unknown. Having dropped the idea that he may strike it rich due to this finding, he was unsure of its safety, so he made a short call.
Officials and experts in protective suits arrived at their house soon and cordoned it off. They went inside to dispose of the substance safely with the instructions given by Steven and his wife which stood outside. The "rock" they had found was put in a box on the dining room table. After a few minutes of careful inspection, the officials gathered and gave the terrified pair the news.
Fortunately, the officials told him that it wasn't a hazardous piece of waste on the beach, and that gave him some relief. However, his eyes widened when they told him what it really was. They concluded that, though extremely rare, hunks of ambergris do wash up on the shore from time to time. But what is ambergris?
As it turns out, ambergris has been a highly coveted substance for a long time. Its odor is quite distinctive — "like a mixture of squid and farmyard manure" — but it sweetens over time. Furthermore, ambergris has been used in expensive perfumes for centuries. Some historians even believe it may be edible.
In fact, ambergris is a whale by-product. It is produced in bile ducts of whales and then excreted. While this sounds disgusting, it is so rare in nature that it's worth a fortune to the right buyer. And the couple had just stumbled upon it on a beach walk! It seems that their dream of being rich finally receives a response.
Not every species of whales produces ambergris, and only sperm whales can. You can find sperm whales in oceans all around the world, including Britain's coastal waters. Individuals' length can reach 67 feet, and their weights have been recorded at over 63 tons. While sperm whale populations have increased, these majestic creatures were not always so prolific. How lucky they are!